Cancer: the progress that gives hope

DECRYPTION – With 382,000 new cases diagnosed in France in 2017 and 157,400 deaths, cancer remains a scourge to be eradicated. No miracle drug, but research is constantly progressing. Here is an overview of recent advances.

The rise of targeted therapies

Since the 2000s, the therapeutic arsenal has been enriched, in particular with drugs that block specific tumor mechanisms. These precision weapons selectively destroy cancer cells without affecting healthy cells. And are, therefore, much better tolerated than chemotherapy.

Trastuzumab, better known by the trade name Herceptin, was one of the first to be marketed. It is designed to block a particular target: the HER2 protein. “Indeed, 10 to 20% of breast tumors are said to be HER2 positive because they overexpress this protein, which makes them particularly aggressive. Trastuzumab blocks it and thus blocks one of the causes of division and development of cancer cells. It is a very effective drug which makes it possible to prolong the life expectancy or to obtain true remissions. Sometimes we combine two targeted therapies for even more effectiveness, especially in case of metastases

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